Posts Tagged ‘Che-Hsuan Lin’

We are finally back at .500.  It certainly took us long enough.  When a team reaches any sort of milestone, the typical questions is always, “How does it feel?” For this one, the answer is easy.  It feels really, really long overdue.  I mean, come on.  It’s just .500.  All that means is that you’ve won as many games as you’ve lost.  It’s almost two months into the year and we have yet to win more games than we’ve lost.  That says something about our team.  And what it says isn’t good.

Still, reaching .500 is better than not reaching .500, so the fact that it’s pathetic that it took us so long to get here again shouldn’t technically detract from our celebrating it.

Bard was on the mound and delivered a mediocrely decent start.  He lasted five and one-third innings and gave up two runs on five hits while walking four and striking out two.  He gave up his first run in the first, when he loaded the bases with two singles and a walk separated only by a flyout; he was luck to escape that situation with only one run scored on a sac fly.  And then he gave up a home run to start the second inning.

But something really has to be done about his efficiency if he’s going to remain a starter, because he can’t go on pitching for just five innings.  It means that the bullpen has to work overtime every fifth day, it means that it erodes his durability in the long run, and it means that the opposing team gets to see more of his stuff.  He threw ninety pitches in his five-plus innings.  Of particular embarrassment were his two back-to-back walks in the fourth, which illustrates another obvious problem with pitching inefficiently: it puts runners on base, which you really don’t need when you’re trying to win a ballgame.  How he managed to conclude his start with only two runs allowed is amazing.

Fortunately, those two runs didn’t get us down in either the short term or the long term.  We loaded the basis ourselves in the top of the fourth in the same way: two singles and a walk.  And we scored our run in that situation the same way they score theirs: on a play that resulted in an out.  In our case, since we didn’t previously have any outs that inning, Youk scored on a double play by Podsednik, who started for the first time since 2010.  We then scored again in the third to tie the game at two; Pedroia singled, and Youk walked two outs later.  Then Middlebrooks doubled in Pedroia, and Youk was out at the plate to end the inning.

Neither team scored again until the sixth, when Nava launched a solo shot to right with two out.  It was a slider down and in, and he was all over it.  He had that ball’s number; you could tell by the speed with which it left the park.  It gave us our first, and fortunately not our last, lead of the night.  Then Podsednik singled, and then Shoppach launched a long ball of his own, this one to left.  It was one of those line-drive home runs, also getting out of the park in a hurry.

So at that point, we were up by three.  Bard began the sixth with a five-pitch strikeout and was then replaced by Miller.  Ironically enough, it was Miller who melted down after that, not Bard.  Miller got a strikeout but then walked a batter and gave up a home run, which shrunk our lead to one.  Hill came on in the seventh and got the first two outs, and Padilla got the third.

After Nava flied out to begin the eighth, Podsednik went yard to right center field on an inside slider, the second pitch of the at-bat.  This one was a little more lofty; it took a little more time to get out, but a home run is a home run, and when the ball goes out, the ball goes out.  And it’s a good thing, too, because the Orioles weren’t finished.  Padilla allowed a walk and a double to begin the eighth before recording the first out via strikeout, and then he allowed one run via a sac fly.  But he’s lucky that it wasn’t more than one run, and he can thank Lin for that.  It looked like it was going to land right in the gap between Gonzalez and Lin, right in right center field.  Lin ran to that territory, dove, and caught it.  It was a decidedly Ellsbury-esque catch, and we can only assume that it save the game.  That catch at least saved the game from being tied; if the game were tied, who knows what would have happened?

Needless to say, Bobby V. put Aceves in after that.  Aceves finished the eighth and took care of the ninth, and we won, 6-5.  Five of our batters had multi-hit performances, all of them two hits each.  We posted one less than twice as many hits as Baltimore with thirteen, and yet we only won by one run.  That may have had something to do with the fact that we were only one for seven with runners in scoring position.  Still, we had four extra-base hits, three of which were long balls, ironically enough all hit by the bottom third of the order; the bottom third of the order hasn’t hit three home runs since 2003.  But as long as we got the W, and as long as we’re at least at .500, we can feel great.

AP Photo

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Buchholz seems to have returned to his usual, inconsistent self.  Or rather his usual, consistently inconsistent self.  Or rather his usual, consistently mediocre self.  However you word it and no matter how you look at it, the result was still the same: we won, but we could just as easily have lost.  And that should never be the case when the offense does its job.  Assigning responsibility to various parts of the team seems to be the theme over the past several games, but then again, you could look at it this way: if the team made a habit of winning as a team and losing as a team on a consistent basis, divisions of responsibility within the team would seem less conspicuous.

Buchholz only lasted five and one-third innings.  He gave up five runs on six hits, which, as you can see, is about an average of one run per inning.  If you look at it that way, it’s a good thing he was taken out when he was.  He also walked four and struck out two; never a good sign when you walk twice as many as you strike out.  He threw ninety-four pitches, fifty-seven of which were strikes.  His best pitch for strikes was his curveball, followed by his cutter.  His changeup and fastball left very much to be desired if you ask me.

It was unfair.  Buchholz went one-two-three in his first two innings, and I was getting ready for a quality start.  Instead, I, as we all did, had to come to terms with the fact that those solid two innings meant nothing in light of the third, when he threw thirty-one pitches and allowed all but one of his runs.  He just collapsed; he couldn’t find the strike zone and his command vanished into thin air.  It was amazing, obviously in a bad way.  It was the complete and total disappearance of any shred of control or ability on Buchholz’s part.  He gave up a single, a walk, and a single to load the bases.  Then he walked in a run.  Then he allowed an RBI single.  Then, as if the first one weren’t embarrassing and humiliating enough, he walked in another run.  Then the fourth run scored on a double play before the inning was finally ended on a groundout.  He allowed a leadoff home run in the fourth on a changeup, went one-two-three in the fifth, and then secured the first out but left two on in the sixth before he was replaced by Miller.

Meanwhile, we were busy battling back and digging ourselves out of the hole that Buchholz had so generously put us in.  We went down in order in our first two innings as well, until we got on the board in the third.  Nava singled, Byrd doubled, Che-Hsuan Lin grounded out, Aviles singled in Nava, and Byrd scored on a sac fly by Pedroia.  At that point, the score was 2-0; after Buchholz’s epic fail, we were down by two.  The home run put us down by three.  We went down in order in the fifth but tied it up in the sixth.  First, Papi started things off with a leadoff homer to right on a high fastball.  The ball actually bounced on the overhang over the seats out there and exited the park completely.  Now that’s power.  He crushed it.  He absolutely crushed it.  Gonzalez followed that with a double and Middlebrooks with a single.  Salty grounded out, but then Gonzalez scored on a sac fly by Nava, and Middlebrooks scored on a balk.  The game was then tied at five.

We broke that tie in the very next inning.  Lin struck out, Aviles singled, Pedroia doubled, and Papi walked intentionally to load the basis.  All Gonzalez could muster was a sac fly, and all Middlebrooks did was single in Pedroia, but even though those didn’t seem like the ideal results of clutch at-bats, they did supply us with two crucial runs that we’d need to win.

We added a third insurance run in the eighth; with two out, Lin singled, Aviles struck out but reached on a wild pitch, and Pedroia singled Lin in.  The scoring finally stopped after the eighth, when Hill, who replaced Miller who’d had a very solid outing featuring a one-two-three seventh, allowed three straight singles that but another run on the board for Baltimore.

The Orioles may have scored the last run, but they didn’t laugh the last laugh.  We did because we held on and won, 8-6.  Padilla and Aceves finished the game, with Miller taking the win.  The lineup featured four multi-hit performances, three for two hits each and one, that of Middlebrooks, for three hits.  All in all, what made this win so great was that, aside from starting pitching, we did everything.  We put a competent and effective relief corps out there.  We batted around; we played long ball, and we played small ball.  We covered all the bays, both literally and figuratively, and left no stone, again with the exception of starting pitching, unturned.

The win was so awesome that it gave us some hope that we can win in our current state, which we’d better get used to since Ross is now officially out indefinitely with a fracture in his foot.  With that said, showing that we have the ability to win in our current state is very different from actually winning in our current state.  Last night we demonstrated that we can do it, but will we? That’s the big question.  Either way, we wish Ross a speedy recovery.

AP Photo

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Happy Truck Day, everybody! I’m telling you, nothing warms the soul like an eighteen-wheeler pulling out of Fenway Park to head south in the dead of winter.  It’s been an especially long winter this year, so I’m ready to see some ball.  I can’t even begin to describe how psyched I am.  I don’t care how cold it is outside; Spring Training is almost here! Pitchers and catchers on Thursday! Life is good.  Life, indeed, is good.

Non-roster invitees are right-handers Randor Bierd, Fernando Cabrera, Casey Kelly, Adam Mills, Edwin Moreno, Joe Nelson, Jorge Sosa, and Kyle Weiland; southpaws Kris Johnson and Brian Shouse; catchers Luis Exposito and Gustavo Molina; infielders Lars Anderson, Yamaico Navarro, Angel Sanchez, and Gil Velazquez; and outfielders Zach Daeges, Ryan Kalish, Che-Hsuan Lin, and Darnell McDonald.  Keep your eye on Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias.  They’re beasts.  And I hope Lars Anderson doesn’t disappoint; he’s supposed to be the first homegrown power hitter we’ve had in a long time, and I’m psyched to see him put up some big numbers this year.

Youk, Pap, Lester, and Delcarmen are already down there, which is a good sign.  Pap and Delcarmen could really use the extra training after the badness they exhibited last season.  Youk has stated his intention to spend the entirety of his career in Boston and retire as a member of the Red Sox.  He stays in Boston during the offseason and loves New England.  Way to be, dude.  Way to be.  And Lester will probably be our Number One starter.  Last season he proved to be way more consistent than Beckett, and don’t look now, but he’s basically turned into one of the best southpaws in all of baseball.

By the way, it’s pretty much official that we’re not resigning Rocco Baldelli.  Guess who’s going to hit for Drew against southpaws: Bill Hall.  This should be mighty interesting.

Congratulations to Clay Buchholz, who’s been named the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Jimmy Fund’s Rally Against Cancer Spokesplayer! Nomar made his debut as an analyst on Baseball Tonight and was absolutely horrible.  He said nothing of consequence and made no sense half the time.  I guess that means he won’t be retiring as soon as we thought.

Spring Training.  Baseball season.  Almost here.  What more can I say? Soon it’ll be Opening Day (and by that I mean Opening Night; thanks again, ESPN), and we’ll get this show on the road!

In other news, the Saints won their first Super Bowl in franchise history last weekend.  The final score was 31-17, and let’s not to forget to mention Peyton Manning’s single interception, nabbed by Tracy Porter for a seventy-four-yard touchdown.  Tracy Porter now has the two most important interceptions in franchise history.  Also, let’s not forget to mention the Peyton face.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  Boston College won the Beanpot.  I know; I was surprised, too, because I was expecting the U after the B, not the C after the B.  The final score was 4-3; it was a close game, and a good one, too.  Oh yeah, and the Bruins are actually on a winning streak.  You read right.  We’ve won our last four games; a 3-0 shutout against the Habs last weekend, a 3-2 shootout victory against the Sabres, a 5-4 defeat of the Lightning, and a 3-2 shootout win against the Panthers.  With the exception of the Habs win, which by the way was exceptionally gratifying, those were some seriously close calls, but we are in absolutely no position to be picky.  A win is a win, and I’ll most definitely take it.

Boston.com/Steve Silva

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